The government of Kenya has been making efforts in enforcing transition policy in education sector where all 15 million school-going children are expected to report to school for first term starting on 26 July, 2021. All learners from Pre-primary to Form Four are supposed to report to school this week with Grade Four pupils transitioning to Grade Five and Standard Eight leavers, who have been home for an entire school term, joining Form One. The condensed academic calendar will take 30 weeks instead of the usual 39 with the government keen to recover the ‘lost year ‘during the Covid 19 pandemic when schools were closed.
Statistics have shown that at least 400,000 out of 1,179, 192 learners joining Form One may not have learning spaces since only 747,161 learners left secondary schools last year. The government has lifted the veil on the true burden parents will have this week due to the economic impact caused by the Coronavirus pandemic which is manifesting in: Introduction of extra fees charged by some public secondary schools; Increased cost of school uniforms, books and other personal items needed by students. Prices of school items have been hiked with sellers claiming that the increased taxes by the government have hit them hard and they have to pass the added costs on to the parents.
The risk of Coronavirus explosion in congested schools remains real, with data from the Health Ministry indicating that the positivity rate still remains high. This is further exacerbated by data released by the Ministry of Health where it was revealed that majority of teachers and learners haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19. 73 teachers have so far succumbed to Covid -19 while 454 others has recovered; seven out of every ten teachers are not fully vaccinated against the virus and only five out of ten teachers have received the first dose of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The Ministry missed its target to administer the jab to 330,000 teachers in the first phase from March to June; only managing to fully vaccinate 89,611 teachers as 158,720 others got the first dose only.
Parents have also expressed concerns over possible Coronavirus infections among learners as they move to their respective institutions, where there is fear that movement of millions of learners and teachers to various destinations across the country could trigger a surge in the infection rate. Social distancing will be an issue in schools because of inadequate basic infrastructure like extra classes, dormitories, laboratories and libraries to accommodate the increased number of learners. The number of teachers is inadequate as compared to the increased number of learners joining different institution of learning in a bid to actualize the government’s 100 percent transition policy. The situation currently is such that it’s difficult to see how students will get quality education and stay safe from Covid-19. However, there are measures that the government and school administrations can take to prevent Covid-19 in learning institutions. More teachers should be recruited in order to provide quality education to the children. More basic infrastructure should be put in place to provide a good learning environment for children. The government should speed up the vaccination process to ensure that children and teachers are free from Coronavirus.